Time to make the president choose: Working people or union bosses?

Fred Wszolek Spokesman, Workforce Fairness Institute
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Due to the threat presented by the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) proposed “ambush” or “quickie” election rulemaking, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce has appropriately decided to act.  The NLRB is supposed to be an “independent” federal agency that – among other things – referees disputes between employers and unions in the private sector. Instead, it has become a vehicle to reward union bosses for their political contributions made to President Obama. The Board is now fully staffed and appears prepared to not only render decisions that benefit labor, but also significantly change the rules in how workplace elections are conducted to ease unionization.

The proposed rule change by the NRLB would mean workplace elections take place less than two weeks after the union petitions for one. And matters that would determine whether an election should even take place are not addressed until after the vote, including disagreements concerning the eligibility of voters.

But these aren’t the only changes the “ambush” election rule would promulgate. The NLRB also seeks to provide union organizers with the private contact information of employees despite the fact it was originally provided to employers for emergencies, and not for distribution to organized labor. If the government has its way, business owners would be required to continue to provide home addresses, but also email addresses and telephone numbers for each worker making it easier for union organizers to threaten and intimidate them.

With the Obama administration spearheading the effort to open up workers to coercion and bullying, Congress must exercise its authority. And they have; earlier this week the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, and Employee Privacy Protection Act were introduced in the U.S. House.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act was introduced by Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Kline and addresses the attempts by the Obama Labor Board to force workers into unions with “ambush” elections by ensuring an election does not take place with less than 35 days’ notice, and providing employers a minimum of 14 days to prepare to go before the Board. In addition, they will have the opportunity to raise concerns about the organizing effort during the pre-election hearing as opposed to after the election has already taken place. Workers would be afforded sufficient time to make an informed decision about whether they intend to support or oppose the formation of a collective bargaining unit, therefore they would be less susceptible to intimidation and harassment tactics employed by union organizers.

In addition, the Employee Privacy Protection Act was introduced by Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Roe and addresses the efforts by the NLRB to provide labor organizers with the personal contact information of workers. The legislation will place the power where it belongs, with employees, by allowing them to select the type of personal contact information that is provided to unions. No worker should be forced to hand out their home address to someone who intends to bully and coerce them. That is not fair to employees or employers, and quite obviously, is a gross violation of their personal space.

And for those in Big Labor who question whether such incidents take place, we would point them toward Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where an executive with Post Brothers Apartments was threatened and stalked by union organizers who even took photos of her children while at their local bus stop.

Companion legislation named the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act was also filed in the U.S. Senate by Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, the ranking member on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The bicameral effort on this issue is a response to the activist agenda pursued by President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board. It also demonstrates an understanding and willingness on the part of the Congress to hold the executive branch to account and stop what is clearly payback to a major political contributor of the president’s.

While workers and businesses should take heart in the legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate, the work has only just begun. Their voices must be heard if the bills are to be passed in both houses and sent to the president. It is time to  make President Obama publicly choose between everyday working men and women or the union bosses who have bought and paid for access and special treatment from this White House. High-flying speeches and poll-tested rhetoric designed to win the news cycle shouldn’t be enough when protecting the safety and defending the freedoms of citizens.  Elected officials in both the executive and legislative branches must  be required to demonstrate where they stand.  America’s workers are watching and waiting.

Fred Wszolek is a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI).